Friday, February 11, 2011

Film Review with Robert Mann - Just About Famous

Just About Famous ****½

Here is a film that has played in and been part of the official selections for no less than 14 film festivals to date, including the Sarasota, Indie Memphis, Hot Springs Documentary, Sidewalk Moving Picture, San Diego, DC Shorts, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Gasparilla International, HollyShorts, Doc Miami International, Dam Shorts, Iron Man Comedy Series and Black Maria Video + Film film festivals, and will also be playing in the upcoming Cleveland International Film Festival.

Not only that but virtually every screening has generated a barrage of excellent reviews. And guess what – Just About Famous is a tongue in cheek documentary about celebrity impersonators and a very funny and insightful one at that. Chronicling the lives of a number of impersonators attending the “Sunburst Convention of Professional Tribute Artists” which is held in Orlando, Florida every summer, the film provides us behind the scenes insights into the preparations made by the featured impersonators – or “tribute artists” as they are often referred to in the film – offering us humorous and revealing insights into what makes these people do what they do. 


Painting everyone as real individuals who, contrary to what some may believe, do not believe themselves to be the very people they are impersonating, the film shows us charismatic individuals who are as interesting in their own right as they are when in the roles they portray and, as well as being very funny, the film also proves to be extremely heart-warming. 


Sure, with its short running time – just 14 minutes 34 seconds – the film doesn’t dig too deep but what directors Jason Kovacsev and Matt Mamula have created really doesn’t need to. Each of the impersonators that is featured (some substantially, others only fleetingly) – Elvis Presley (Charlie Franks), Dame Edna Everage (Scott Mason), Britney Spears (Athena Jherebilovska), Whoopi Goldberg (Bettina Williams), Oprah Winfrey, (Carol Woodle), Dr. Phil (Dan Schneid), Rod Stewart (Daniel Dzialo), Bette Midler (Donna Maxon), Robin Williams (David Born – who is also an actor and stand-up comedian), Jay Leno (Gary Alan), James Bond (John Allen), Robert De Niro (Joseph Manuella – who has doubled for the real De Niro in two movies and who was actually arrested in 2001 for impersonating him off the set as well, even going so far as to acquire a credit card in his name), George W Bush (John Morgan), Dog the Bounty Hunter (Kevin Gilger), Kelly Clarkson (Lana Ulitskaya), Barack Obama (Michael Bryant), Sarah Palin (Patsy Gilbert), Bill Clinton (R. Dale Leigh – who has played Bill Clinton in romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe), Kenny Rogers (Richard Hampton), John Lennon (Shaun Friedrichs) and John Lennon (Tim Biancalana) – not only look almost like the real deal, so much so that in some cases you might even swear that they are the real thing not impersonators, but their impersonations are spot on, making for dead ringer for the celebrities they are impersonating, even though this film clearly establishes each person’s individual personality as well, allowing us to see that they are far more than just people revelling in the glory of their celebrity lookalikes. 


Funny and insightful, Just About Famous is a very well made short documentary and if you get the chance to see it you really should – it would hard to impersonate a film as charming as this.

Just About Famous is currently going around the American film festival circuit. To find out where the film is going to be screening check out the official website at this address: http://justaboutfamousthefilm.com/

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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

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